Staffs Union at NUS National Conference

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NUS Conference 2020

Student Voice | studentvoice@staffs.ac.uk
 

Last week the 4 delegates you elected to represent you at the annual National Union Of Students (NUS) Conference voted on national policy that will affect Universities and Students' Unions across the country.

 
 

If you didn't catch our summary on social media, here are the policies that were voted on, and what they might mean for Staffs students:

  • We discussed the potential changes to how students pay their course fees and how their education is delivered with the policy ‘Building a Movement to Transform Education’
  • Looking at how NUS will build a mental health campaign that will benefit all students across the UK and ‘end this mental health crisis together, once and for all’
  • As a key issue that effects students, we discussed if NUS should be ‘Declaring a Climate Emergency’
  • We discussed the ‘International Student Support and Experience’ whilst looking at the impact of Brexit on international students and especially international Postgraduates
  • Everyone student needs a safe, affordable place to live and study whilst at University. How can NUS help with ‘Fire safety, late buildings, accessibility and affordability - the need for a national student housing campaign’.
  • We explored the access to health benefits for students and apprentices and the ‘Parity in Healthcare for all students and apprentices’ policy.
  • We looked at how are NUS making sure that students are treated fairly in the workplace? And ‘Ending exploitation while studying’
  • We discussed the impact of the PREVENT initiative on student privacy and ‘Ending Securitisation, Surveillance and Prevent

You can read more detail about the full list of policies here.

 

Tuesday Forrest, NUS Delegate and incoming Elected Officer told us a bit about National Conference this year:

"Overall Conference was positive this year with its policy proposals thanks to the new way of submitting policy online. When it came to voting on motions it gave us time as delegates to actually confer about what is best for staffs but we could still vote how we felt was right. 

There seemed to a big sense of HE & FE Solidarity this year, with a lot of the policy proposals making sure all students were being included in both.

As with most NUS conferences, we learnt that Staffs are leaps and bounds ahead in the student movement, with what we as a union and university provide for students, so things we may already have, we voted for so that other unions/universities can get the resources they need to provide similar things".

 

One of your current Elected Officers and NUS Delegates, Anaida Fernando tells us about NUS Conference.

 

Tuesday also highlighted some of the key policies that stood out at this year's Conference.

International Student Support and Experience | PASSED

 

"Anaida helped us a lot with this policy. I never knew there was so many obstacles that international students face before they can even study at university. We discussed the process and we believed that this motion is important, but there are some parts missing from this and sub proposals. I was genuinely horrified about how much international students go through!"

Parity in Healthcare | PASSED

 

"This is something that was on my manifesto for NUS delegate.

Conference recognised that Students currently have differing access levels to healthcare in comparison to other demographics. The only thing that I felt was missing from this policy proposal was the dreaded HC1 form. This form in itself is a massive barrier to students and I was disappointed that it was mentioned in this policy. The only subproposal to this policy was to do with the price of Prescriptions and about how expensive they can be if not using prepaid options. I personally voted For this as it would be helpful. At next year’s conference I believe there should be a policy submitted to address HC1 forms.

Priority Policy 2020: Building a Movement to Transform Education | PASSED

 

"We discussed one of the sub proposals more that others, Please understand that we looked at these proposals from a staffs perspective. Sub proposal 3 was indepth and covered all bases in terms of representation, but other parts of the policy we believe would be detrimental to the university experience. The sub proposal said: Universities should be forced to publish their Award gap so that prospective students are aware of the implications of studying at that institution. Furthermore, and public Award Gap will push universities to take tackling the problem more seriously as it may affect the income they gain from students.

I believe that information of this kind should not be used to make even more league tables within education which it will ultimately become. If this were to happen, recruitment rates will drop, courses will close and thus begins “teach out” periods. Teach out periods from my experience are difficult and unfair on students currently studying the course, especially if you are in the last year of teach out. There were also unnecessary links to arms trades and war in this proposal which I believe was wrong."

 

This was NUS Delegate, Alisha Vaugn's, first National Conference but that didn't make her any less passionate about the issues.

 
 
"We had a few different thoughts and perspectives on the policies that have gone through [...] some of us did have different answers, but that's not always a bad thing."
 

There was also emergency policy regarding students and COVID-19 that was passed:

"The COVID-19 pandemic is the single biggest public health crisis in generations and has already had a profound impact on the UK and around the globe.

NUS must ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the seven million students and apprentices we represent as an absolute priority as government, sector agencies and wider society respond to the crisis" the policy starts off with.

It goes onto outline what the solution might be and what NUS will do moving forward, we've amended it to directly reference it's impact on Staffs students:

  • Recommending the University (and other relevant decision making bodies) should work closely with the Students' Union on any changes that will affect their student experience and that any changes are communicated "clearly and directly" to students
  • Promising that the NUS, SUs, governments and institutions will work together to address the issues and challenges facing education from mental health to pay conditions of healthcare students on the front-line, to housing, finance, assessments - basically anything that affects your education.
  • Urging government to address the wider issues that disproportinately affect students such as "Rent and utility bill holidays for those who cannot pay"

Read more about the fully policy here.

 

If you have any questions about NUS or any of the information in this article, contact studentvoice@staffs.ac.uk.

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